Evolution in Alaska

This editorial from the Anchorage Daily News is one of the best-informed I’ve ever seen about the creationists’ national strategy to “Teach the [made-up] scientific controversy about evolution!” It appears that a number of scientists and educators turned out for public hearings on Alaska’s new science standards last week, and they educated both the board and the media in the process.

It would be nice if every newspaper was this smart about the creationists’ “teach the controversy” strategy:

Without much fuss, the Alaska Board of Education put an essential bit of science back into the state science standards last Friday. That was thanks to more than a bit of civil discussion that took place the day before.


But to teach the “evolution vs. intelligent design” controversy in science classes would give too much weight to ideas that haven’t earned their scientific keep. There are better challenges to evolution on scientific grounds.

That does not mean evolution is only a hypothesis. As speakers at last week’s Alaska Board of Education hearing on state science standards pointed out, the theory of evolution is as sound scientifically as the theory of gravity. Both raise unanswered questions, but they are generally accepted in the world of science, acted upon in real life and, most of all, supported by the preponderance of evidence.

The serious scientific challenges to evolution or Darwinism are not from creationists or intelligent design theorists who draw their inspiration from faith, but from scientists who draw their conclusions from evidence. Evolution is sound theory, not fixed dogma. It can both withstand and profit by continued scrutiny and revision.

Anchorage Daily News, “Board restores reason to evolution studies

While we’re on the subject of Alaska, be sure to check out the website of Alaska artist Ray Troll (www.trollart.com). He did the shark image in this post, and he does some great art on ocean biology, fossils, and evolution.

Also, the Evolution 2005 meeting has been going on up in Fairbanks. I suspect PT poster Reed Cartwright, who is at the meetings, will have a report at some point.

For posterity, here are some previous news articles on evolution and the Alaska science standards, from the Anchorage Daily News and elsewhere. ADN reporter George Bryson deserves a lot of credit for putting the issue on the map in Alaska back in 2004.

“Alaska editorial: Board restores reason to evolution studies.” June 12, 2005. http://www.juneauempire.com/stories/061405/opi_20050614001.shtml

“Evolutionists gather at UAF for conference.” June 12, 2005. http://www.news-miner.com/Stories/0,1413,113~7244~2917363,00.html

“State Board of Education adopts revised standards.” June 12, 2005. http://www.juneauempire.com/stories/061205/sta_20050612013.shtml

“Science teaching standards evolve.” June 11, 2005. http://www.adn.com/news/alaska/story/6594942p-6478760c.html

“Testimony calls state guidelines soft on evolution.” June 10, 2005. http://www.adn.com/news/education/story/6590802p-6474520c.html

“Start with science.” June 9, 2005. http://www.adn.com/opinion/story/6585949p-6469605c.html

“Evolution of Ray Troll.” September 26, 2004. http://www.adn.com/life/story/5601518p-5532823c.html

“Educator’s Dilemma: Teachers try to explain evolution without offending religious students.” Part 2. September 6, 2004. http://www.adn.com/life/story/5514111p-5451979c.html

“War of the word: Alaska educators join national debate over use of ‘evolution’.” Part 1. September 5, 2004. http://www.adn.com/life/story/5510310p-5448476c.html

PS: Reed also mentioned the new website of the Society for the Study of Evolution, http://www.evolutionsociety.org/, which everyone should check out.